Council of American Jewish Museums
          E-News | July 2013   
In This Issue
Alaska Jewish Museum Opens
Kessel to Direct Vilna Shul
Skirball Cincinnati Appoints Director
Zuniga to Holocaust Museum Houston
Invite Congress to Visit
CAJM is ... 
Jewish art and history museums, historic sites, historical and archival societies, Holocaust centers, synagogue museums, Jewish Community Center galleries, children's museums, and university galleries ...  the professionals and volunteers who work in them ...  the children, adults, and families who visit them ...  the patrons who support them ...  the organization that keeps them vital.



The Alaska Jewish Museum and Cultural Center opened on July 3rd with a festive open house and barbecue at its new building in Anchorage. According to Curator Leslie Fried, enthusiastic,  

larger-than-expected crowds visited the inaugural exhibit, On the Wings of Eagles: Alaska's     Contribution to Operation Magic Carpet. The exhibition employs photographs, artifacts, jewelry, costume, original artwork and film to explore the part played by Alaska Airlines pilots in airlifting 50,000 Yemenite Jews to Israel in 1949-1950. Special guests included one of the pilots, a navigator, and Darragh Metzger, whose father was a captain and whose mother was a stewardess - in 1950s parlance - on the flights. The new  AJM&CC offers a safe home for Alaska's Jewish cultural artifacts, provides a place to showcase the untold Jewish contribution to Alaska's history, art, and culture, and celebrates Alaska's heroic humanitarian rescues of Jewish refugees during the establishment of the State of Israel.



Barnet Kessel
Barnet Kessel, who will begin his new post as Executive Director of the Vilna Shul later this month, has been a Boston-area business leader for over 24 years and an active volunteer for Jewish causes. According to President Deborah Feinstein, "Barnet is an inspirational leader, he is dynamic, and he is dedicated to the Boston Jewish community. His great grandfather immigrated to Boston and settled in the West End, just steps from the Vilna; he started the firm that Barnet eventually successfully ran, built and sold. Barnet did all this while taking time to give back to his community. He's the ideal candidate to execute our vision for the future." Kessel, who holds a B.S. from Syracuse University School  Vilna Shul detail
of Management, has been active with Combined Jewish Philanthropies for nearly a decade and has chaired its Young Leadership Division. He sits on the board of directors of the Jewish Community Relations Council and the Synagogue Council of Massachusetts. The Vilna Shul is dedicated to restoring its historic synagogue building as the center of Jewish cultural and religious life in downtown Boston.



Abby S. Schwartz has joined the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR) Skirball Museum in Cincinnati as Interim Director. Schwartz is familiar to many CAJM members through another professional role she has held since 2009: that of national coordinator for Abby Schwartz  Jewish American Heritage Month, which is celebrated each May. Schwartz brings to this new role more than thirty years of museum experience, including service as
Skirball archaeology
curator of education at the Taft Museum of Art. There she oversaw all educational programming, trained docent volunteers, and curated temporary exhibitions. She has also lectured widely on Jewish art, was general editor for the publication Artistic Expressions of Faith in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, and co-curated an exhibition of Jewish and Christian devotional objects with the Skirball Museum. Rabbi Jonathan Cohen, Cincinnati Dean of HUC-JIR, said that "Abby Schwartz brings extraordinary talent, energy, and experience to the Skirball Museum and our entire College-Institute community. I have every confidence that she will raise the profile of the Skirball Museum in our community and beyond, enhance its programs, and increase its contribution to the cultural life of our region." Image right: Archaeology Center.


Holocaust Museum Houston has named Dr. Kelly J. Z˙˝iga as its new Executive Director, to begin July 17. Z˙˝iga, who has served as executive director of the Houston Community College Foundation since 2006, was named one of "Houston's Most Influential Women of 2012" by Houston Woman magazine. Her previous experience includes key fundraising positions with the Houston Zoo, Inc.; the University of Houston System; Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Connecticut; Claremont University Center and Graduate School in Claremont, California; and Children's Hospital, Los Angeles. Z˙˝iga serves as an adjunct professor at Texas A&M University's Bush School of Government and Public Service, and an adjunct professor at the Rice University Susanne M. Glasscock School of Continuing Studies. Museum Chair Mark Mucasey said that "[we anticipate] a future of expanded outreach, enlarged and updated physical plant, and enhanced programming that reaches all corners of our community. Our Board and our staff felt overwhelmingly that Dr. Zuniga is just that visionary executive who will get us there." HMH has had over 1.7 million visitors since its 1996 opening.


The American Alliance of Museums is encouraging institutions across the country to participate in 
"Invite Congress to Visit Your Museum Week 2013," which is scheduled for August 10-17th. This Capitol period for state-and-district work is an ideal time to make your representatives feel welcome at your museum and help them understand more thoroughly the range of programs and services that you offer to their constituents ... and people from all over the United States and beyond. The AAM has made the outreach process
AAM logo
very simple with this one-page, twelve-step guide. They include sensible advice (e.g., don't be afraid to ask questions) and a sample site visit timeline.  Let your Members of Congress know how much you appreciate what they do for your community; give them more to brag about and advocate for.


Chizuk Amuno
CAJM offers resources for learning all year round on our website and at our annual conference; models professional standards; offers opportunities for information exchange; and works on behalf of Jewish museums and museums with Jewish content, like the Goldsmith Museum of Chizuk Amuno Congregation in Baltimore, Maryland.
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